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Poster Abstracts
Posters will be featured in a virtual “Poster Gallery” which will include a PDF as well as audio recording by the primary author. There will also be a designated Poster Session on Monday evening at the in-person conference and each poster author will be available for live interaction and Q&A.

Poster abstracts are available below to review in advance. Select a track from the list below to jump to the abstracts within that category.
General Fisheries
Establishing a Standardized Sampling Method for Channel Catfish in Medium to Small Illinois Impoundments
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Mitchell Rosandich, Eastern Illinois University; Dr. Eden Effert-Fanta, Eastern Illinois University; Daniel Roth, Eastern Illinois University; Dr. Robert Colombo, Eastern Illinois University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: In North America, catfish are highly regarded due to their recreational and commercial use. Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus, Blue Catfish Ictalurus furcatus, and Flathead Catfish Pylodictis olivaris are the three most sought after of all the catfish species. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) stocks Channel Catfish in lentic systems across the state, supplementing population numbers for increased angler success. However, these species are notoriously difficult to sample for biologists. Little is known about the underlying population dynamics, their reproductive success and the efficacy of current stocking efforts. Our goal is to establish the most effective method for sampling Channel Catfish in medium to small lakes and reservoirs. With the help of IDNR fisheries biologists, we have identified several local impoundments that will be used within the study. The targeted impoundments were selected based on location, size and species presence. This study will use and compare a variety of gear types, such as hoop nets, alternating and direct-current boat electrofishing, trot lines, and gill nets. During July and August 2021, we sampled three Illinois lakes using boat electrofishing and four lakes using tandem-baited hoop nets. 55 catfish were collected using hoop nets, and 11 were collected using direct-current boat electrofishing. In total, 63 pectoral spines were collected for aging and 63 fish were tagged using Floy-tags marked with individual codes. Sampling will continue in the fall, adding new gear types and modifying previously used gears. This fall sampling will be used to direct our sampling decisions going forward to the 2022 sampling year. Using these findings, we hope that IDNR fisheries biologists will be able to more effectively sample for and understand Channel Catfish population demographics around the state. The IDNR can then more accurately manage and stock Illinois waters, saving resources and increasing angler opportunity statewide.
Influence of Sunfish Nesting Colonies on Biodiversity of a Northern Michigan Pond
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Brock Peterson, Whitworth University; Brian Keas, Au Sable Institute; Aaron Koning, University of Nevada, Reno
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Nest guarding behavior reflects an evolutionary tradeoff of increasing recruitment for an energetic cost to the guarding individual. Time spent foraging away from the nest may supplement dietary needs, but leaves the nest vulnerable to predators. In this study, we set out to test the extent of this tradeoff among nesting male pumpkinseeds (Lepomis gibbosus) and to establish a baseline understanding of the biodiversity of macroinvertebrate and fish communities in a previously unstudied Michigan pond. Specifically, we analyzed the influences of pumpkinseed sunfish nesting colonies on macroinvertebrates and fishes based on spatial and depth gradients associated with sunfish nesting locations. Along these gradients, we sampled active macroinvertebrates using funnel traps and fishes using minnow traps. While no substantial differences were observed in fishes, we saw significantly greater total abundance of macroinvertebrates, along with significant biodiversity differences at Lepomis gibbosus nesting colonies compared to areas disassociated with the colonies. Also, significant differences in macroinvertebrate abundance and biodiversity were seen within the immediate colonial space along the spatial and depth gradients—the shallower depths had greater biodiversity and total abundance decreased closer to the center of the colonies. Interestingly, impacts seen were taxa specific, as most taxa declined in relative abundance when disassociated with nesting colonies; however, trichopterans and dipterans increased in relative abundance when disassociated. This suggests that nesting colonies have significant impacts on macroinvertebrate communities, that pumpkinseed sunfish rely heavily on macroinvertebrates as prey while spawning, and that they preferentially forage near their nests. Implications of these results are that management and habitat restoration strategies must ensure adequate habitat and water quality for aquatic macroinvertebrates that are needed by Lepomis gibbosus during the whole year—including the spawning season.
Stranded: A Day in the Life of Fish After Flow Reduction in the St. Marys River Rapids
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Madeline Tomczak, US Geological Survey; Dylan Jones, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Eric Adams, US Fish and Wildlife Service; Tim Calappi, US Army Corps of Engineers; Robin DeBruyne, The University of Toledo; Edward Roseman, US Geological Survey
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: The St. Marys River connects Lake Superior to Lake Huron where the Sault Locks facilitate regional shipping. A major feature at this location is the rapids, located immediately downstream of a series of 16 compensating gates. This study assessed the extent of stranded fishes and potential impacts to aquatic organisms in 2019 and 2020 after reduction of flows in the rapids as part of the seasonal adjustment of gates. After gate closures, we walked the exposed area using a random point search method to look for stranded fish while examining substrates for eggs, larvae, and other life stages using hand-held nets and trowels. In early December 2019, flows in the rapids were reduced from 937 m3/sec to 237 m3/sec (equivalent to 1 gate fully open) resulting in about 55,000 m2 (~14% of 380,000 m2 total) of the rapids to become exposed. We did not observe stranded game fishes but found multiple adult mottled sculpins and evidence of one salmon spawning redd. In early November 2020, flows were reduced from 243 m3/sec to 117 m3/sec (equivalent to ½ gate open), resulting in about 20,765.09 m2 (~5% of 380,000 m2) of the rapids exposed. We found several live adult and juvenile salmonids stranded in the dewatered area during 2020, in addition to adult mottled sculpins and logperch. In both years, we collected viable eyed salmonid embryos, dead salmon eggs, and in 2019 four live sac fry Chinook salmon. Although reductions in flow through the rapids could significantly impact overwintering fish and embryos, our snapshot examination showed evidence of few stranded game fish and embryos, several dozen prey fishes, and invertebrates. Our observations provide preliminary information to formulate research hypotheses to evaluate effects of flow reductions and river bottom exposure on aquatic organisms.
Determining Hybridization of Age 1-2 Striped Bass Using a Body Depth to Total Length Ratio
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Hunter Weidenborner, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri; Tyler Bennett, Southern Illinois University; Hadley Boehm, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri; Craig Paukert, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, U.S. Geological Survey
Student or Professional: Employee of Co-op unit
Abstract: Past research has shown that a body depth:total length ratio (D:TL) of approximately 1:3 can be used to distinguish between adult Striped Bass and adult Striped Bass x White Bass hybrids. However, no quantitative analysis has been conducted to determine whether the same holds true for juveniles. Therefore, our objectives were to 1) determine if a D:TL ratio can be used to distinguish between juvenile Striped Bass and hybrids, and 2) whether a 1:3 ratio accurately predicts hybridization in age 1-2 (206-369 mm) fish. Individuals (n = 25) from each of two year classes (2019, 2020) were randomly sampled from a hatchery tank containing a mix of Striped Bass and hybrids. Total length (mm) and body depth (mm) were measured, and fin clips were collected from each individual. Fin clips were sent to a genetics lab where RAD sequencing was used to definitively determine hybridization status for each individual. The mean D:TL of individuals genetically identified as Striped Bass (mean = 0.205) did not differ from those identified as Hybrid Bass (mean = 0.255) for both year classes (P < 0.05). We found that a D:TL of approximately 1:4 could be used to correctly identify fish 90% of the time (hybrid D:TL > 0.24, Striped Bass D:TL < 0.24). Our results suggest a D:TL ratio is still an effective method for determining hybridization in smaller fish, though a D:TL closer to 1:4 may be more appropriate for distinguishing between Striped Bass and hybrids at smaller sizes.
Seasonality of Adult Brook Trout Movement and Habitat Use Dynamics in a Shallow Stream
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Dan Monhollon, Northern Michigan University; Jill B. K. Leonard, Northern Michigan University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: We used daily, weekly, and monthly passive integrated transponder (PIT) telemetry surveys to describe movements and habitat occupancy of adult brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in a small northern Michigan stream. Habitat quality, individual size and condition, and tagged brook trout density were used as predictors for probability and distance of movements during the fall (October-November) and spring (March-April) seasons. Four 35-m focal reaches were established, each consisting of 105 approximately 1-m2 grid cells. For each cell, habitat characteristics including depth, current velocity, dominant substrate, temperature, and available overhead cover were assessed, and a habitat quality index was constructed. Brook trout = 100 mm TL were tagged, and cell occupancy by tagged brook trout was observed by use of a portable PIT antenna during morning and afternoon surveys at 3-4 day and 7 day intervals. Coarse-scale movement was also measured between 100-m reaches at monthly intervals. Brook trout movement is influenced by size-structured dominance hierarchies, but preliminary results from our linear mixed model of Fall 2020 data show TL alone did not predict movement detection at either daily, sub weekly, or weekly scales. Our results add spatial and temporal fine-scale detail to previous work on brook trout movement in our stream, and highlight the importance of scale for assessing individual variation in habitat use dynamics.
Relationship Between Aquatic Insect Drift Densities and Brook Trout Abundance and Size Structure in the Black River, Ottawa National Forest
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Sean Donovan, Dr. Moerke; Center for Freshwater Research and Education & School of Natural Resources and Environment, Lake Superior State University
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) populations have declined over the past century due to anthropogenic factors including, loss of habitat due to logging, reduction of water quality, and introduction of non-native species. As a result, fisheries management has focused on restoring Brook Trout populations in many regions, and there is a need to understand what factors may be driving their success. The objective of this study was to determine if there is a relationship between aquatic insect drift and Brook Trout populations (abundance and size structure). Nine 100-m reaches were surveyed in the Black River (Ottawa National Forest, MI) by conducting fish counts via snorkeling. Insect drift also was measured upstream of each reach and compared to fish counts and size structure in each reach. Preliminary analysis suggests that the Black River supports many small fish (<5 in), and relationships with insect drift density will be discussed. If aquatic insect densities and Brook Trout abundance and size structure are directly related, then fisheries managers could focus on improving habitat that supports invertebrate production to improve the Brook Trout fishery.
Lethality and Avoidance Behavior of Silv-Ex Class A Fire Foam Concentrate on Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Joshua Perry, Ryan Heines, Maxwell Majinska, Jill BK Leonard
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Oversuppression from the 1900’s and anthropogenic climate change has caused an increase in the occurrence and severity of wildfires in North America. SILV-EX Plus Class A Fire Control Concentrate is marketed as a biodegradable fire suppressant commonly used in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for wildland firefighting. Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are a highly valued sportfish native to Michigan, and are commonly found in streams located within jack pine (Pinus banksiana) stands where fire is common. SILV-EX has previously been shown to have an LC50 at 12°C of 103.2mg/L in age 1 brook trout. It is important to determine if there is active avoidance by brook trout of SILV-EX class A foam during an exposure event, as well as improve awareness of the toxicity of this chemical to age 1 brook trout. Age 1 brook trout showed mortality at concentrations of 0.0125%. Ten minute exposure trials with 25% and 75% of LC10 were conducted with age 1 brook trout. In order to measure avoidance behavior, individuals were exposed to a trial chamber which included an open field (50% of chamber) with two cover zones on opposite ends of the chamber (25% each). Water and diluted chemical were added at a rate of 0.36 liters per minute over a ten minute period. Time spent per zone and number of transitions between zones were recorded. Initial results indicate that there is no significant difference between time spent in treatment and control areas (P>.05), suggesting that age 1 brook trout may not avoid fire foam when it is encountered in the wild.
Piloting Collection and Telemetry Methods for Evaluating Yellow Perch Habitat Use in the Upper Mississippi River
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Ryan Hupfeld, Iowa DNR; Gene Jones, Iowa DNR; Royce Bowman, Iowa DNR
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Historically, Yellow Perch fishing in the Upper Mississippi River in Iowa was only a minor component of those fisheries. Latent demand for Yellow Perch fishing in Iowa and recent population increases in the Upper Mississippi River may have created an opportunity for fisheries managers. However, despite understanding that this is a popular sportfish across its range and has the potential for increases in popularity on the Upper Mississippi River, there is a paucity of information available on Yellow Perch habitat use in the Upper Mississippi River. Information on Yellow Perch habitat use would be invaluable in development of future Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Projects. In order to design a comprehensive research study to evaluate Yellow Perch habitat use, collection and telemetry methods need to be developed, tested, and refined for this system. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate telemetry methods to define seasonal habitat use of Yellow Perch in the Upper Mississippi River. Methodology appears appropriate for evaluating seasonal microhabitat use of Yellow Perch in the Upper Mississippi River as well as evaluating HREPs and identifying critical habitats. Despite this, we explore multiple modifications to improve data collection.
Evaluating Effects of Partial Wetland Disconnection on Walleye Diet and Prey Availability
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Logan Cutler, South Dakota State University, Graduate Research Assistant (Fisheries Science MS); Dr. Alison Coulter, South Dakota State University, Assistant Professor; Dr. Brian Blackwell, South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, Fisheries Biologist
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Wetlands are critical habitats for fish and are closely tied to fishery health. Wetlands are often productive habitats that can provide abundant food sources for fish. Barriers limiting fish access to wetlands and other crucial habitats have been cited as the single greatest threat to fishes in the United States. Lake Kampeska, a large glacial lake in northeastern South Dakota, was modified in the mid 1990s with a V-notch weir partially separating the lake from a large section of shallow open water wetland. Our objective was to determine differences in Walleye diets and prey availability in Lake Kampeska and its partially disconnected wetlands. We used boat electrofishing and gill nets to collect Walleyes for diet analysis from both habitats during summer and fall of 2021. We collected prey fish during the same time periods using mini-fyke nets in both habitats. Walleye diets will be compared seasonally and between habitats using the mass of diet items and an index of relative importance. Data collected during 2021 showed the wetland prey fish community had higher taxa richness (R = 10), Shannon diversity (H = 0.497), and evenness (J = 0.216) than the lake (R = 7, H = 0.037, J = 0.019). Walleye diet and prey fish collection will continue in spring, summer, and fall of 2022, and spring of 2023. Higher prey abundance, a more diverse prey community, and greater mass of diet contents in either habitat would be indicative of potential faster Walleye growth from wetland access. Results of this study will help to inform managers on the potential benefits of barrier removal and wetland restoration as it relates to Walleye growth and survival.
Using Environmental Variables to Predict Walleye Catch During Broodstock Collection Efforts
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Michael A. Parr, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks; Ben C. Neely, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks; Lucas K. Kowalewski, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Walleye Stizostedion vitreum were first introduced into Kansas reservoirs in 1949 and have since become one of the state’s most popular sport fishes. Walleye populations are maintained in many reservoirs through stocking programs because of inconsistent natural recruitment associated with environmental variability. Walleye egg collection from wild populations during spring spawning periods support stocking programs but require intensive temporal and financial resources to ensure that annual Walleye egg demand is met. Identification of environmental factors that influence daily Walleye catch during egg collection periods would be valuable to more efficiently conduct broodstock collection efforts. A suite of two biotic and six abiotic variables were examined in this study to predict daily Walleye catch during these egg collection efforts. Variables identified to be positively associated with daily Walleye catch included barometer change, proportional stock density-quality, moon illumination, and reservoir elevation. Variables with negative relationships included water temperature and relative abundance of stock-length Walleye from the previous autumn sample. Results of this study will be helpful to inform future Walleye broodstock collection efforts. Additionally, these results provide cursory information about factors that influence spawning behavior of Walleye in Hillsdale Reservoir, Kansas.
Modeling Potential Harvest Regulation Changes for Walleye, White Bass, and Hybrid Striped Bass in Lake McConaughy, Nebraska
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Mikael Ranta, University of Nebraska at Kearney
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Managing for multiple recreational species within a single waterbody can be difficult due to interactions and similar resource use among species. Further, achieving compliance may be difficult when species are similar in appearance. Applying the same regulation to two similar species may or may not be appropriate, depending on the population dynamics and characteristics of those species. The three most popular species among anglers in Lake McConaughy, Nebraska, are walleye Sander vitreus, white bass Morone chrysops, and hybrid striped bass M. chrysops x M. saxatilis. Current harvest regulations for walleye include a bag limit of up to 4 with a 38 cm (15 in) minimum length and only one allowed > 66 cm (22 in). White bass and hybrid striped bass are regulated under the same regulation, which includes a total bag limit of up to 15, with no minimum length and only one allowed over 66 cm. The goal of this study is to improve understanding of how current and potential changes in harvest regulations may influence these three recreationally important species. Population characteristics and dynamics from historic surveys on Lake McConaughy will be entered into the Fisheries Analysis and Modeling Simulator (FAMS) for scenario analysis. Proportional size distribution estimates for the three species’ populations will be predicted in response to each of the potential regulation changes. Overall, the results are expected to inform management of these focal species.
Hidden Invaders: Invasive Species in Live Bait
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Hannah R. Mulligan, South Dakota State University; Benjamin J. Schall, South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks; Tanner Davis, South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks; Alison A. Coulter, South Dakota State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Fish species are among the most introduced organisms worldwide, with most introductions occurring by human-mediated events. One method of a human-mediated introduction is through the live bait trade. Juvenile non-native fish can appear similar to many bait species, making it difficult to distinguish between native and non-native fish in bait shops. Recreational anglers releasing unused live bait into waterbodies could inadvertently spread invasive species and cause negative ecological and economic impacts. In the US, fishing regulations in most states prohibit the release and transfer of live bait. However, anglers may still intentionally release unused bait into waterbodies instead of the trash or an appropriate disposal location. As a result, bait introductions could spread non-native species beyond current barriers. Education programs seek to prevent this type of introduction, but an improved understanding of the risk the live bait trade poses for introduction would help refine education campaigns. This poster addresses an initial exploration of the variation in live bait regulations among states in the Missouri River basin. Future research will use eDNA sampling techniques to test for the presence of key invasive species, Bighead Carp and Silver Carp, while also identifying risk factors associated with invasive species presence in the live bait trade. Results will provide a greater understanding of the risks of invasives in the live bait trade and an additional resource for detecting potential invasion sources of Bighead Carp and Silver Carp. Future implementable actions could include refined educational campaigns, increased inspections of bait distributors, or additional live bait regulations following risk factor identification.
Factors Affecting the Movement of Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) in the Illinois River
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Taylor Mogavero, Center for Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale; James Garvey, Center for Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Southern Illinois University- Carbondale; Alison Coulter, Department of Natural Resource Management, South Dakota State University; David Coulter, Center for Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Southern Illinois University- Carbondale
Student or Professional: Unknown
Abstract: The movement, dispersal, and ultimate impact of invasive fishes are influenced by internal and external factors. Invasive Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) have established reproducing populations that are currently expanding on all fronts in the US, including towards the Laurentian Great Lakes through the Illinois River. Dispersal is potentially affected by individual carp conditions along with environmental factors. We looked at internal (body condition, length) and external (temperature, discharge) factors to determine the relative impact of each. We quantified Silver Carp movement in the Illinois River using acoustic telemetry data from 2012-2020. Temperature, either negatively or positively, affected every movement metric. Range (the entire distance covered by a carp) was negatively affected by increasing body condition. Total movement (the sum of every movement recorded) was negatively affected by length and discharge. These results may aid current and future management strategies to reduce the spread of Silver Carp and other invasive species.
Age Comparisons and Growth Modeling for Blue Sucker (Cycleptus elongatus) in South Dakota
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Tanner Carlson, University of South Dakota; Benjamin Schall, South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks; Jeff Wesner, University of South Dakota
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Blue Suckers (Cycleptus elongatus) are a native fish impacted by fragmentation through dams and channelization on the Missouri River. As a result of this disruption to their migration route, Blue Sucker populations are decreasing in many areas in their range and are considered a species of concern throughout their range. We compared age estimates from pectoral fin rays and lapilli otoliths, two common aging structures for Blue Sucker, and estimated growth of Blue Suckers sampled in the James and Missouri rivers, South Dakota. Von Bertalanffy and Gompertz growth curves were fitted to the sampled fish and compared. A total of 114 Blue Suckers were sampled using a combination of trammel nets and boat electrofishing, including 39 females, 41 males, and 34 juveniles. Total lengths ranged from 301 mm to 806 mm, and age estimates ranged from 1 to 24 years with fin rays and 1 to 53 years with otoliths. These results suggest that fin rays produce lower ages of Blue Suckers compared to otoliths, with discrepancies between structures increasing at older ages.
Onset of Facial Malformation in Hatchery Reared Cisco, Coregonus artedi
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Reinna Blair, Northern Michigan University; Jill B.K. Leonard, Northern Michigan University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Cisco, Coregonus artedi, are highly sensitive to environmental variability which likely contributes to the speciation within the Great Lakes cisco clade. Hatchery reared cisco develop flat, subterminal snouts in hatchery environments instead of the pointed, terminal mouth observed in the wild. The cause and onset of the malformation could be the result of physical trauma, diet, or genetic responses to an unusual rearing environment. We determined the stage of malformation onset during development by comparing hatchery reared cisco (Jordan River National Fish Hatchery) to wild caught cisco (northern Lake Huron) using geometric morphometrics. Our results suggest that the onset of malformation begins as early as flexion during early development. The malformation being characterized by an improperly formed ethmoid bone. Early onset of the malformation suggests physical trauma is not the sole causative factor, and suggests diet and/or environmental cues in the malformation. Further research is ongoing to evaluate the effect of rearing density and temperature on the malformation.
Living in a Gradient: The Influence of Water Temperature Variation on Development, Settling Time and Survival of Pallid Sturgeon larvae in the Missouri River
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Maria Erceg, South Dakota State University; Steve Chipps, South Dakota, USGS, Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Dan James, US Fish and Wildlife Service; Pat Braaten, USGS
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Pallid Sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) are a federally endangered species experiencing widespread reproduction and recruitment failures. Recruitment failure is hypothesized to be caused by habitat modifications made to the Missouri River that disrupt connectivity and alter temperature profiles downstream of constructed dams. Hypolimnetic releases from Missouri River dams affect the temperature downstream, creating colder conditions during the downstream drifting phase. Understanding the influence of water temperature changes on larval development is crucial for recovery efforts. In this study, we evaluated the effects of temperature increases ranging from 0.39°C to 1.73°C day-1 on energy use, settling behavior, and mortality of endogenously feeding Pallid Sturgeon larvae. Settling rate of larvae was positively related to heating rate and ranged from 5 to 8 days post hatch at heating rates of 0.39°C to 1.73°C day-1. Extending the drift time by 3 days would extend the drift distance by approximately 150 km based on average river velocity. Our data will help inform proposed surface-water releases at Fort Peck Dam to improve larval survival in the Upper Missouri River.
Temporal and Spatial Variation in Macroinvertebrates Collected with Hester-Dendy Samplers in the Ohio River
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Esther Atutey, Ball State University; Mark Pyron, Ball State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: A history of industrialization, oil spills, fires, and silt pollution from agriculture and urbanization, led to the Ohio River being listed as the most polluted river in the United States. The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) and its members responded and conducted monitoring programs for pollutants with a goal to improve water quality. ORSANCO collects annual macroinvertebrate samples at multiple locations. However, collection techniques changed from early years with rock basket samplers (1966-1971) to more recently with Hester-Dendy (HD) samplers (1991 to current). We evaluated biological traits and taxonomic diversity of macroinvertebrates in the Ohio River to identify temporal or spatial variation. Collections using HD resulted in a total of 2,927,062 individual macroinvertebrates in 319 taxa. Family-level taxonomy for macroinvertebrates resulted in 86 families. Macroinvertebrate families were further classified by biological traits Poff et al. (2006) for trait analyses. We were unable to classify all taxa into trait categories, resulting in excluding taxa from analyses. We used multivariate analyses to identify temporal and spatial patterns in abundance.
Assessing the Effects of Contaminants on Restored Wetland Invertebrate Communities
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Macayla Greider, University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point; Jered Studinski, University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The movement of pesticides and excess nutrients from agricultural areas to wetlands, streams, and groundwater tables is a known issue. Since the mid-1990s use of neonicotinoid insecticides has become common. Few studies have examined the effects on neonicotinoids on aquatic organisms, and field-based studies are especially lacking. This study is looking at the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on aquatic invertebrate growth rates and community structure. In 2021, aquatic invertebrates and water samples were collected from 21 ponds on 14 conservation easements throughout central Wisconsin. Detectable concentrations of neonicotinoids were found at 16 of 21 ponds. Differences in aquatic invertebrate communities and the growth rates of common taxa will be assessed across all ponds, as will the potential effects of neonicotinoids. Confounding variables such as presence of other pesticides, excess nutrients, and variation in pond characteristics, like mean temperature and depth, will be discussed.
Effects of Shoreline Modification on Water Quality and Macroinvertebrate Sssemblages in the St. Marys River, Michigan
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Savannah Blower, Lake Superior State University's School of Natural Resources and Environment, and The Center for Freshwater Research and Education; Dr. Ashley Moerke, The Center for Freshwater Research and Education
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: In the last two centuries, shoreline modification has increased by 50% worldwide, and is expected to continue as waterfront development increases. Hard engineering approaches, such as rock walls and riprap, alter natural habitat which may impact fish and macroinvertebrates in nearshore areas. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine if shoreline modification type affects macroinvertebrate assemblages in the St. Marys River, the connecting channel between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Shorelines representing three treatment groups (hard, soft, and natural) were sampled for macroinvertebrates and water quality in the upper part of the St. Marys River in summer 2021. Differences in macroinvertebrate assemblages (e.g., taxa richness, relative abundance), as well as habitat quality (e.g., DO, organic matter) will be compared to illustrate if and how shoreline management may influence macroinvertebrates. This study will help develop management plans in the future to inform waterfront owners on how they can help maintain the ecological integrity of nearshore areas and organisms.
Microplastic Ingestion by Fathead Minnows and Their Impacts on Gut Microbial Communities
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Maggie Petersen, Annis Water Resources Institute, Grand Valley State University; Dr. Charlyn Partridge, Annis Water Resources Institute, Grand Valley State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Microplastics are a ubiquitous presence in the world’s aquatic environment and their threat to our natural resources is poorly understood. The Laurentian Great Lakes are one critical system affected by these pollutants. This system provides critical ecosystem services and economic opportunity for the region and understanding the impact microplastics have on freshwater aquatic communities is vital. Once microplastics enter the aquatic environment, microbial biofilms form on the surface and toxic contaminants may be adsorbed; the impact of these pollutant-laden microplastics on aquatic organisms is unclear. To address this, we incubated microplastics in Muskegon Lake and added them to commercially available fish food pellets to evaluate how microplastic ingestion impacts the health of fathead minnows. We examine the effects of microplastic ingestion on the fish gut microbial community, liver gene expression levels, and other health parameters to explore how ingestion of incubated microplastics impact freshwater fish.
Impacts of Three Wastewater Treatments on Fathead Minnow Growth and Survival
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Julia Fitch, Graduate Assistant EIU; Daniel Johnson, Eastern Illinois University, One Water; Thomas Caman, Eastern Illinois University; Robert Colombo, Eastern Illinois University; Daniel Roth, Eastern Illinois University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: There is enduring concern that the effluent of wastewater treatment plants may have harmful effects on receiving waterways and fish populations; such as growth, developmental, and reproductive complications. In order to examine this, fathead minnows were studied within three wastewater treatments at the Charleston Wastewater Treatment plant, located in Charleston Illinois. These included an algaewheel biofilm treatment, the activated sludge treatment before ultraviolet (UV) radiation treatment, and the city treatment after UV exposure. Three mesocosms were constructed using 1,325 L stock tanks with a flow through set up. The control consisted of two 38 L aquarium tanks filled with dechlorinated city water, kept indoors. We stocked 200 fathead minnows in each treatment, maintaining them for a total of two weeks; and water samples were also collected and analyzed three times for quality. After the two weeks the minnows were collected and observed for growth, survival, and any other abnormalities. Survival of algaewheel treatment exposed fish had high mortality, likely due to poor water quality from equipment malfunction. Full analysis of survival and growth of remaining treatments is on-going. It is anticipated to find the highest growth rate within the pre-UV treatment, followed by the post-UV treatment, and lowest growth within the control group. In addition, survival is expected to be the most prevalent within the pre-UV treatment group. The results of this study aim to better understand the impacts of the three wastewater treatments on growth and survival of fish population. In addition, how these treatments may affect the health and well-being of receiving fish populations through their ability to remove toxins; and how wastewater treatment may be improved in the future.
The Science Behind the lyophilized Molecular Technology and Field Applications
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Theresa Schreier, US Geological Survey; Stacie Kageyama, US Geological Survey; Matt Hoogland, US Geological Survey; Chris Merkes, US Geological Survey; Stephen Spear, US Geological Survey
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Use of environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect invasive species is emerging as a viable technology for field application. Rapid results using a portable loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) detector can be an essential tool for resource managers. The LAMP technology has broad application as an early detection tool in the field. The assay requires developing multiple primers and probes that target a small and specific region of the genome. The looping process improves detectability and robustness of the reaction. One advantage of the LAMP analysis is that the reaction can be completed at one temperature whereas the traditional quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) requires cycling, which is inefficient. The LAMP assay can be simplified by using reagents lyophilized in a single tube making the assay user friendly and portable. The ability to process samples and run LAMP at one temperature is ideal for use in the field. We developed LAMP assays to detect round goby, invasive carp, Dreissenid mussels, tilapia, mosquito fish, and guppy. Our lab designed a workflow to efficiently develop new LAMP assays and we will present an overview of this process and discuss the assays we have developed.
The Geographic Extent of Didymosphenia geminata Blooms in the St. Marys River
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Dakota VanFleet, Lake Superior State University's School of Natural Resources and Environment, and The Center for Freshwater Research and Education; Dr. Ashley Moerke, The Center for Freshwater Research and Education; Dr. Robert Pillsbury, Associate professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Department of Biology and Microbiology; Dr. Carole-Anne Gillis, Gespe'gewaq Mi'gmaq Resource Council
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Didymosphenia geminata (i.e., Didymo) is a diatom that forms dense mats in cold, oligotrophic systems and has recently invaded the St. Marys River (Michigan), a Great Lakes connecting channel. Since the first Didymo blooms were detected in 2015, blooms have continued annually in the Main Rapids and have spread downstream to the Little Rapids area. However, little is known about the spread and biomass six years after the invasion. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the geographic extent of Didymo blooms in the St. Marys River. In June 2021, 70 sites were sampled for benthic algae throughout the 112-km river channel. Preliminary analysis suggest that Didymo still currently exists in the Main and Little Rapids, but blooms are restricted to the rapids habitats in the river. These findings have important implications for understanding the potential threat of Didymo throughout the river and the potential for spread beyond the initial invasion site.
Food Webs of Fishes in Floodplain Lakes
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Michael Schneider, Indiana Department of Environmental Management; Mark Pyron, Ball State University
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Floodplain lakes are considered biodiversity hotspots within large river systems. The relative importance of allochthonous vs autochthonous carbon to the food webs of river systems has been widely debated for decades. In this study, we employed amino acid compound-specific isotope analysis (AA-CSIA) of carbon sources in fishes to determine the ultimate sources of carbon supporting the food webs in floodplain lakes of the lower Wabash River. Samples from fishes representing planktivores, piscivores, and invertivores, as well as sources of carbon (primary producers) were analyzed using AA-CSIA of carbon. Principle components analysis and linear discriminate analysis were used to identify and determine food source groups based on d13C values. Five food source groups were identified: algae, cyanobacteria, aquatic C3 plants, terrestrial C3 plants, and terrestrial C4 plants. The MixSIAR package in R was used to estimate the relative contribution of dietary carbon from source groups to consumers. The diets of the three trophic feeding guilds primarily contained carbon from algae. The diet of planktivores did not have meaningful contributions of carbon from any other source groups. Cyanobacteria and terrestrial C4 plants were secondary contributors of carbon to the diets of piscivores and invertivores. Our results indicate that sources of carbon for the food webs of floodplain lakes on the lower Wabash River are autochthonous, and primarily algae.
Low-Head Dam Removal Muncie, Indiana: Using Side Scan Sonar to Evaluate Geomorphological Substrate Change and Local Fish Community Response
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Cole Baird, Ball State University; Mark Pyron, Ball State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: In 2019, two low-head dams were removed from the West Fork White River in Muncie, Indiana. Site assessment of substrate and fish community occurred prior to and following dam removal. Substrate was mapped using side scan sonar and specific substrate types were delineated using ArcGIS. Pre and Post dam removal substrate maps were then compared for visual physical change. Sites above and below the two low-head dams, were sampled annually, by electrofishing 250 meter transects. The collected data are being used to help further the understanding of the response of these local fish communities following dam removal.
Impacts of Dam Removals on Fish Assemblages and Habitat in an Illinois River
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Josh Bruegge, Eastern Illinois University; Dan Roth, Eastern Illinois University; Rob Colombo, Eastern Illinois University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Low-head dams serve as intermittent barriers to aquatic connectivity and alter habitats in the impounded reach directly upstream. Two low-head dams on the Vermilion River and North Fork Vermilion River of eastern Illinois were removed in 2018 and 2019, restoring lotic habitats and allowing fish passage to an additional 1,115 miles of upstream habitat within the basin. The Vermilion River basin is a diverse system inhabited by over 80 fish species with 28 species identified by Illinois as Species in Greatest Need of Conservation. Fish population surveys have been conducted at 12 fixed stations both above and below two dam sites on the Vermilion and North Fork Vermilion rivers. Fish surveys were completed twice annually in the spring and fall since 2012 using DC electrofishing. Habitat surveys were also done at the same fixed stations following the Ohio Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) protocols. We analyzed fish and habitat data to track changes in both the physical characteristics and fish communities of the rivers. Both water velocity and QHEI scores increased at a majority of the stations, suggesting a return to a riverine environment that may benefit more sensitive and lotic-adapted species. Fish data were analyzed to track changes in community composition and ecological guilds related to the dam removals.
Litter Decomposition Across a Gradient of Wetland Health in the St. Marys River, MI
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Michael Hillary, Lake Superior State University -- Center for Freshwater Research and Education; Dr. Ashley Moerke, Lake Superior State University -- Center for Freshwater Research and Education; Dr. Matthew Cooper, Muskegon Community College
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Coastal wetlands play a significant role in the Great Lakes basin by supporting fisheries, filtering water, and protecting shoreline habitat, yet over the past century they have been under stress from anthropogenic activities. To date, wetland health has largely been determined using structural indicators, however functional indicators may give a more complete assessment of an ecosystem’s health. The objective of this research was to determine whether functional indicators correlated with wetland health. Litter decomposition was used as a functional measure, and it was quantified across a gradient of wetland health (low, medium, high) in 12 St. Marys River (MI) wetlands. The loss of litter mass (i.e., decomposition rate), as well as community respiration and gross primary production measurements, will be analyzed to determine if these measures of wetland function correspond to the gradient of wetland health and structural indices. These findings may help managers improve their understanding of the effectiveness of functional and structural indicators of wetland health, as well as prioritize restoration efforts to restore both structure and function.
Characteristics of Woodpecker Nest Trees in Minnesota
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: North, Michael R.
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Some state, federal, and county agencies have various legal commitments to consider cavity dependent wildlife needs in their forest management activities, and to mitigate adverse effects. Woodpeckers are ecosystem engineers for cavity dependent wildlife and so understanding woodpecker nesting habits is critical for managing forests sustainably for cavity dependent wildlife. I collected data on nest tree species (n=141), diameters at breast height (n=107), and tree or stand ages (n=49 [28 in aspen]) from nests found incidentally or systematically from 1993-2021 for all nine woodpecker species that nest in Minnesota. Quaking aspen are the preferred nest tree for 5 species: yellow-bellied sapsucker (95.7%), hairy woodpecker (79.5%), northern flicker (75.0%), pileated woodpecker (71.4%), and downy woodpecker (57.9%). Mean diameters of aspen nest trees were 30.4-32.4 cm for yellow-bellied sapsuckers, hairy woodpeckers and northern flickers, and 24.2 cm for downy woodpeckers. Published aspen growth rates suggest it takes 60 years to grow aspen to 26 cm dbh and 70 years to 32 cm dbh. Measurements on actual nest tree age or data on stand age found that 46% of nests in aspen (n=28) were in trees or stands >60 years old, 71% were in aspen or stands >50 years old, and 82% were in aspen or stands >40 years old. Commercial aspen rotation ages of 40 years are unlikely to provide nesting sites to sustain a viable population of small-to-medium-sized nesting woodpeckers. Land managers and land owners should consider extending rotation ages and increasing reserve amounts in order to benefit cavity-dependent wildlife.
**VIRTUAL ONLY** Adaptation of Methods Used in Marine Ecosystems to Detect Presence and Determine Abundance and Habitat Preference of Two Endangered Freshwater Species in Canada
Track: General Fisheries
Authors: Patricia Glaz, Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Hans-Frédéric Ellefsen, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Spring Cisco (Coregonus sp.) and Hickorynut (Obovaria olivaria) are two endangered freshwater species in Canada for which abundance and habitat preference remain poorly documented. In this study, we have adapted methods traditionally used in marine environments such as mutlibeam data, scuba diving and the use of submarine cameras for the detection and capture of both species. Bottom trap netting assisted by scuba divers was used in 2020 and 2021 in Lac des Ecorces, Canada to capture Spring Cisco without hurting or killing fish. We also used a submarine camera attached to the bottom trap net and linked to the surface. The fishing gear worked very well as it captured two live Deepwater Sculpins without causing injury but no Spring Cisco was caught. Hickorynut was sampled by scuba divers at four sites in the St. Lawrence Lowlands during the 2020 and 2021 summers. Multibeam data used for the navigation channel allowed us to determine sampling sites. The species has a broad distribution throughout the St. Lawrence Lowlands; it was found at different depths but the mussel appeared to be more abundant in deeper waters. Methods adapted from the marine environment used in this study worked well in freshwater ecosystems even though some challenges arose due to current and visibility. Efforts for the presence detection and abundance determination of Spring Cisco and Hickorynut as well as the study of their habitat preferences using those methods will continue in 2022.
General Wildlife
Wetland Community Response to Invasive Buckthorn Removal from Temporary Ponds in an Urban Landscape
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Melissa B Youngquist, Shedd Aquarium
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Habitat loss and degradation are the main causes of global biodiversity decline. In response, resource managers worldwide are turning to habitat restoration to conserve remaining habitats and mitigate ongoing losses. Using an experimental approach, I am testing how the removal of an invasive species, common buckthorn, from the perimeter of temporary wetlands affects the faunal community; three treatments included a control, buckthorn removed to 10 m from the pond perimeter, and buckthorn removed to 15 m. I monitored responses of amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, mammals, and vegetation. Removing buckthorn increased canopy openness and abundance of herbaceous ground cover; this effect was most pronounced for the 15 m buckthorn removal treatment. In the first year after buckthorn removal, results suggest that wetland restoration can increase amphibian diversity at some sites and affects behavior of some mammals. However, we did not document a change in the aquatic invertebrate community. There may be a time-lag in species responses and continued, long-term, monitoring will reveal how communities change over time.
John Rushin Teaching and Research Prairie at Missouri Western State University: First-Year Vegetation Success Survey of a Conservation Prairie
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Alyka Zahnd, Jessica Poush, and Csengele Barta; Department of Biology – Missouri Western State University
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Prairies, populated by a vegetation blend of grasses, herbs, shrubs, and tree species, historically covered over 400,000 square miles of North America. Due to land use change and agricultural repurposing, prairie coverage has declined to less than 5% of its historical values. In recent years, the scientific efforts focused on prairie restoration have increased, establishing the basis of science-informed management practices. Missouri Western State University, in collaboration with the Missouri Department of Conservation and private land conservationists, has become one of the championing institutions of on-site prairie restoration. In 2018, 26 acres of land was dedicated for prairie conservation to one the Department of Biology’s retired faculty members, Dr. John Rushin. The John Rushin Teaching and Research Prairie serves as model prairie ecosystem designed to facilitate research, education, applied learning, and outdoors setting for students, faculty, and the community. Now, as part of a long-term ecological and eco-physiological study framework, focused on a first-year survey of the emerging prairie vegetation after the initial seeding in the beginning of 2020, and the relationship between emerging native species and invasive species. Based on our initial survey, we found that in its first year after seeding, only a proportion of the seeded prairie vegetation emerged successfully, while invasives and noxious weeds were still prominent. Further prairie management and successful competition between prairie species and invasives are expected to alter species composition in the following years, potentially shifting towards a higher success of native prairie species. The planned differential management practices, starting in 2022, are expected to reveal best-fit management practices to ensure native success and conservation.
Differences in Proboscis Length of Bombus impatiens Feeding on Native and Non-native Flowers in Chippewa County, Michigan
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Isaac Loutzenhiser, Lake Superior State University; School of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: The future of our plant communities are destined to change due to the dynamic nature of our planet. As the planet warms it is predicted that plant species will continue to expand their range allowing for novel associations to occur within our plant communities. Our native pollinators, such as Bombus impatiens are certain to have encounters with both native and non-native species of plants. This experiment wanted to see if B. impatiens was showing signs of morphological influence based on the species that they were pollinating. A total of 56 B. impatiens specimens were collected during the months of June, July, and August. Of those 56 specimens, a total of eight different flower species were observed with B. impatiens. A total of three species of flowers were found to be native to Chippewa County, Michigan, whereas five species of flowers were not native to Chippewa County, Michigan. A coefficient of variation value yielded from the mean proboscis length was 0.1845 which means that there is a relationship between the flowers being pollinated and the mean relative proboscis length. However, it is likely that more specimens of B. impatiens are needed in order to show clearer trends in the data.
Missouri Western State University Prairie Savanna Restoration Tree Survival: First Growing Season
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Cary D. Chevalier, Missouri Western State University, Biology Department; Jeremy Reynolds, Missouri Western State University, Biology Department; Robert Bremer, Missouri Western State University, Biology Department; Csengele Barta, Missouri Western State University, Biology Department
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: In September, 2020, several faculty, students, and members of the MWSU Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society gathered to plant native prairie savanna trees donated for this purpose by Missouri Department of Conservation, Private Lands Division. This effort is part of a long-term prairie restoration project on the campus of Missouri Western State University. The purpose of this study was to monitor and evaluate the success of our prairie savanna establishment by evaluating tree mortality. 78 trees representing 8 species were planted on the northern edge of the prairie in a large horseshoe configuration. Half of each species were randomly selected to be fitted with protective shields to protect them from depredation by rabbits, deer, and other herbivores. Subsequently, each tree’s location was determined by mapping-grade Global Positioning Systems (Trimble Navigation, LTD). During the summer of 2021 up to August 2021 the survival of each tree was determined in the following categories: 1) Alive and protected; 2) Alive but not protected; 3) Dead and protected; and 4) Dead and not protected. We then calculated the percentage of survival and mortality in each category, as well as simply alive or dead.
Iowa Bowhunter Success After 40 Years of Compound Bow Development
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Devin B. Pettigrew, University of Colorado Boulder; Tyler M. Harms, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: In a previous study, the success and non-retrieval rates of Iowa hunters using compound and traditional bows were compiled from survey data taken in the late 1970s. We present the results of a follow-up survey to assess the status of Iowa bowhunting after 40 years of compound bow development. In addition, the other weapons legal for hunting white tailed deer in Iowa are added to the analysis. While compound bowhunters were 1.4 times more likely to achieve success than traditional bowhunters in the late 1970s, they are now closer to 2 times more likely to achieve success. Rifle and shotgun hunters are also significantly more likely to achieve success. However, non-retrieval rates correlate strongly with success rates across weapon categories.
Composting Deactivation of Chronic Wasting Disease Prions: Preliminary Results
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Amber Smith, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Jonathan Girard, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Alex Thomas, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Rob Michitsch, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Stuart Lichtenberg, University of Wisconsin - Madison; Joel Pedersen, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Prions are the causative agent of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) diseases in mammals. Prions are notoriously recalcitrant to chemical and physical degradation, and are highly persistent in the environment. Disposal of prion contaminated bio-waste is an increasingly challenging task for agencies responsible for such operations. Incineration and alkaline hydrolysis are effective for decontamination of prion waste, but are expensive and require dedicated facilities for use. Burial may inter prions indefinitely, but offer no actual reduction in prion load. The composting process has proven effective for the biodegradation of recalcitrant organic contaminants, and the high number of microorganisms and high temperatures achieved during composting have prompted interest in this process for inactivating prions. Prior research on survival of prions in composting systems is limited and inconclusive. The objectives of this study were to compost CWD-infected deer remains in summer and winter midwest climates, determine pathogen reduction through the use of E. coli NAR, and compare CWD reduction in compost, burial controls, and composting effluent. To test this composting method, we used 5 composting cells: 4 cells that received CWD-infected deer and 1 control cell that received non-CWD-infected deer. Effluent samples were gathered biweekly and/or following precipitation events for prion seeding activity and E. coli NAR analysis. The real-time quaking induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assay was utilized to measure seeding activity in finished compost, remaining biomatter, and effluent. The findings of this preliminary trial suggest that our piles did not breakdown the CWD prion; however, our compost piles did breakdown E. coli NAR, which demonstrates an indicator pathogen reduction was achieved.
Parasite Prevalence in Bobcats (Lynx rufus) Harvested in Southern Wisconsin
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Stephen Van Horne, Harrison Stasik and Ben Schutt
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Bobcat (Lynx rufus) populations are increasing in the Midwestern United States, and trends are apparent in Wisconsin as well. As a result, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources opened up the entire state to bobcat harvest in 2013 and approximately 550 bobcats were harvested in 2017-2018. We aimed to use harvested animals to test the hypothesis that male bobcats would have a higher prevalence of parasites than females because males have larger home ranges and testosterone affects the immune system. Bobcats also serve as hosts for many parasites that are pathogenic or even fatal in other felines—including domestic cats—and humans. Specifically, we wanted to determine if prevalence of tapeworms (Taenia spp) and roundworms varied with sex of bobcat. We acquired the heart, lungs, stomach, and intestines of approximately 95 bobcats that were trapped and harvested in the Southern zone of Wisconsin. We chose the Southern zone of Wisconsin because human population density is higher, possibly increasing risk of parasite transfer from an infected bobcat to a human or a pet. The Southern zone has much more agricultural land cover, and slightly warmer climate which is more hospitable for parasites that cannot survive harsh winters. So far, we identified tapeworms and roundworms within the intestines of 23 bobcats and a Fisher exact showed that prevalence did not vary with sex. We will run analyses again after dissecting the remaining bobcats.
Post-Release Movement and Behavior of Rehabilitated Orphan Female Eastern Black Bears (Ursus americanus americanus) in Northern Wisconsin
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Hayden Walkush, Undergraduate Research Student, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Sam Andres, Undergraduate Research Student, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Quinn Erdmann, Undergraduate Research Student, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Amber Smith, Undergraduate Research Student, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Alayna Reynolds, Undergraduate Research Student, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Sophie Reid, Undergraduate Research Student, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Cece Giesen, Undergraduate Research Student, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; William Watry, Undergraduate Research Student, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Cady Sartini, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: In Wisconsin, orphaned Eastern American Black Bear (Ursus americanus americanus) cubs can be rehabilitated and released by two Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) authorized wildlife rehabilitation centers. Within the last decade, there has been an influx in monitoring studies interested in the post-release behavior of multiple bear species, and the efficacy of these rehabilitation programs. However, published data is lacking for the state of Wisconsin. We are investigating the post-release movements, behavior, and cause of mortality of orphaned yearling female black bears in northern Wisconsin with the use of GPS collars. In addition, we will also be exploring other metrics necessary to determine if species-typical behaviors occur such as land cover selection, home range size, and denning chronology. ArcGIS, a mapping software, and Wicsland 2.0, an open-source land cover dataset created by the WDNR, will be utilized to calculate the aforementioned spatial and temporal metrics. Two individuals were released in October 2019, two are scheduled to be released in October 2021, and more in the future. The information collected could be used to help inform the state on how rehabbed orphaned bears integrate into the northwoods landscape.
Drey Selection of Gray Squirrels in Minnesota
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Alexandria M. Armbrister, College of St. Benedict, St. John’s University; Alarie A. Chu, College of St. Benedict, St. John’s University; Michael J. Joyce, Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth; Trevor D. Keyler, College of St. Benedict, St. John’s University
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Many tree squirrels make dreys made of leaves, sticks and vines for reproduction and general protection from predators and ambient weather conditions. Eastern gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) are a common tree squirrel in eastern North America that build and maintain dreys, but data on gray squirrel drey characteristics in the Midwestern USA are scarce. We studied drey selection by squirrels in the Saint John’s Abbey Arboretum in central Minnesota and in Duluth in northeastern Minnesota. The objectives of this study were to quantify the external dimensions of gray squirrel dreys, describe the internal characteristics of a subset of dreys, and compare the characteristics of trees containing dreys to those available at sites where dreys were observed. Furthermore, we will compare dreys and drey tree characteristics between two different study areas in Minnesota. We identified 75 dreys at St. John’s Abbey Arboretum and 53 dreys in Duluth. For each drey, we measured the distance and direction from the main tree bole, height above ground, and external dimensions. We also recorded the species, height, diameter at breast-height, and canopy cover at each drey tree and at a paired, randomly selected tree. Dreys were mainly found along the tree bole. Squirrels built dreys in a variety of tree species, but maples, oaks and pines were most used. Dreys were found 5.5 m or more above ground with an average of 11.8 m (SD = 3.6 m). The drey trees’ diameter at breast height was an average of 45.2 cm (SD = 15.4 cm). The riparian northern hardwoods and oak forest appeared to be a major factor in site selection. We are currently measuring drey construction materials and will be investigating how drey and site characteristics influence thermal properties of dreys and their role in thermoregulation by gray squirrels.
Evaluating Bat Response to a Human-altered Habitat in a Midwestern River Corridor
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Kathryn McGowan, Ball State University; Tim Carter, Ball State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Bats continue to face numerous conservation challenges across the United States including wind energy development, the spread of white-nose syndrome, and habitat loss. Human alterations to natural environments can impact the presence of bats. How habitat alterations affects different bat species is not clearly known. Our goal is to examine bat use across a gradient of habitats altered by humans. During the 21-22 summer seasons, we used acoustic detectors to survey a variety of sites to examine bat response to the human-altered habitats along the White River corridor in Delaware County, IN. To ensure sampling occurred across a range of habitat types, we created an apriori model categorizing 1km long sections of habitat into five habitat groups based on habitat structure and human influence. Within each category, we randomly selected for six sample sites for a total of 30 sites along the river corridor. Wildlife Acoustics SM4+ echolocation detectors were used to collect acoustic data for 3 nights for 3 different times each summer. Habitat and environmental covariates were measured using light sensors, field observation data, and ArcGIS Pro. Calls will be analyzed using Kaleidoscope software along with manual identification based on species rarity and call structure attributes. Occupancy modeling will be used to evaluate the effects of habitat structure on bat use. Preliminary analysis was done using the average number of calls detected at each site as a crude examination of how the bat community as a whole responds to human alteration of habitat. Our aim is to gain a better understanding of species-specific habitat requirements for struggling bat populations and aid future management decisions regarding habitat protection and the effects of land development on bats.
RADical Conservation: A Population Genomic Assessment of Midwestern Indiana Bats
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Jordyn Z.Chace, Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Tara Hohoff, Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Aron Katz, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, Engineer Research and Development Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense; Brittany Rogness, Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Sarah Gaulke, Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Mark A.Davis, Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Midwestern bats in the Anthropocene face remarkable threats, acting synergistically, that imperil populations and diminish the ecosystem services they provide. White-nose Syndrome, habitat loss/degradation, declining prey populations, pollution, and wind-turbine strike mortalities compound as modern stressors may impose profound and negative impacts on bat populations. The federally endangered Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) may be particularly at-risk, and thus establishing regional population genomic baselines are a conservation imperative. The purpose of this study is to (1) establish baseline population genomic data for critical Indiana bat winter hibernacula and summer roosts in the Midwest, (2) test whether population structure exists and, if so, if it is shaped by winter hibernacula or summer territories, and (3) implement adaptive management strategies to promote these species’ persistence/stability into the future, specifically within the Midwest and Ozark Central Recovery Units. Past research has utilized mitochondrial sequence data and/or (putatively neutral) microsatellite loci to explore Indiana Bat population genetics (Vonhof et al., 2016; Oyler-McCance et al., 2018 ); yet emergent population genomic tools will build off this to provide insightful and high-resolution understanding of fine-scale genetic diversity. A robust genomic assessment of this species is a necessary next step in their conservation to delineate populations, determine the levels of gene flow and genetic connectivity between those populations, create an accurate estimate of effective population size, and to assess the impacts of stressors on their survival. Using ddRADseq, we generated SNP libraries for all individuals and tested if population structure exists within and among hibernacula, if individuals from summer territories could be assigned to hibernacula, and estimated baseline genetic diversity for Indiana Bats in the region. We present the preliminary results with the goal of merging modern genomic methodologies with adaptive management strategies to maximize the probability of long-term persistence of Indiana Bats in the Midwestern United States.
Quantifying the Relationship Between Land Use and Parasitic Trematode Infections in Larval Cricket Frogs (Acris crepitans)
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Pam Taylor, Bradley University Biology Department; Steve Blake, Bradley University Biology Department; John Marino, Bradley University Biology Department
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Parasites can have large impacts on wildlife populations, and human activities are influencing the magnitude of these impacts. However, the relative importance of different human activities for changes in parasitism levels is largely unknown for many ecological systems. In this project, we investigated how different human activities corresponded with variation in parasitism in a wildlife host. We focused on the effects of land use in central Illinois on parasitic trematode infections in amphibians; trematodes can cause mortality and other negative effects in larval frogs, and the large impacts of humans on wetlands in central Illinois likely influence the magnitude of parasite effects. We examined such effects through a survey of trematode infection levels in northern cricket frog (Acris crepitans) tadpoles from 14 ponds surrounded by differing land use (agricultural, suburban, or natural areas) from 2019-2021. We predicted that higher infection levels would occur in tadpoles from ponds with higher proximity to human activity, due to potential impacts of chemical pollution (e.g., fertilizer from farm fields or lawns) that can influence the risk of tadpoles getting infected. Overall, we found high variability in infection loads over time and space,but we did not find a consistent pattern in infection levels associated with land use. Infection in tadpoles from different ponds varied from 0.2-127 mean trematode cysts per host. Infection levels also varied across years; for example, one site changed from a mean of 127 to <1 cysts per host from one year to the next. Our findings suggest that land use was not a strong predictor of infection levels and that other factors likely lead to high variation in infection levels. Nevertheless, the relatively high infection levels we observed in some individuals suggest that these parasites may be having important impacts on these populations.
Impacts of Acidification on Rana catesbeiana Tadpole Interactions with Trematode Parasites
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Alayna Rosales, Bradley University; Dr. John Marino, Bradley University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Animals face multiple stressors that simultaneously may affect their health. For instance, due to pollution, aquatic habitats experience changes in pH which may negatively affect aquatic animals in combination with other stressors in their habitats, like parasites. In this study, we assessed whether parasite-host interactions are influenced by acidic conditions in an amphibian-trematode parasite system. We hypothesized that reductions in pH may compromise host health (e.g., immune function), which results in increased susceptibility to parasitism. We exposed bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) tadpoles to a range of pH conditions and the presence or absence of trematode (Plagiorchis) parasites. We followed a 3 x 2 factorial design in which tadpoles were exposed to 3 pH treatments (pH =5, 6, or 7) and 2 parasite treatments (0 or 25 cercariae added) to individual tadpoles. For each treatment combination there were a total of 10 replicates. At the end of the experiment (14d), all tadpoles were weighed, euthanized, preserved, and dissections were performed to assess infection. Our findings support our hypothesis that lower pH inhibits amphibian host defenses against parasites. Tadpoles exposed to a pH of 5 had a mean cyst (metacercariae) count that was 3.6 times higher than that of the tadpoles maintained at a pH of 7 and 2.9 times higher than tadpoles maintained at a pH of 6. In a follow up experiment, we are exploring effects of carbon dioxide, which affects pH and is expected to continue to change under continued emissions projections. Our results could be useful to wildlife managers in planning for impacts from multiple potential stressors simultaneously, including acidification and disease. Subsequent research should address how effects examined in that lab may influence natural populations; for example, the findings from this work could motivate future field surveys to compare laboratory experiments with patterns in nature.
Preliminary Study into how Adjacent Cover Type Compares to Home Range Composition of Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) in Northern Wisconsin
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Brady Roberts, Wildlife Ecology and Management Undergraduate - UWSP; Catrina Johnson, Wildlife Ecology and Management Undergraduate - UWSP; Ava Weisbeck, Wildlife Ecology and Management Undergraduate - UWSP; Zach Cason, Ecosystem Restoration and Management Undergraduate - UWSP; Dr. Jason Riddle, Professor of Wildlife and Advisor - UWSP
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) are an important game bird in the Great Lakes region. Males perform a unique drumming display atop fallen logs to attract females and maintain their territory throughout the spring. Following their breeding season, this territory tends to change as a result of altered needs. We aim to evaluate comparisons in cover type selection of ruffed grouse in northern Wisconsin as part of a UW-Stevens Point Wildlife Society undergraduate research project. In a previous study, we determined seasonal movement patterns using telemetry data collected between March and August of 2019 and 2021 to evaluate home range size. Analysis indicated non-random selection of cover types within a home range. Similarly, adjacent cover types may be a contributing factor in home range selection. This project plans to examine the land cover types that are adjacent to estimated home range boundaries. Individual locations have been identified using Locate 3.11. These locations will be analyzed within ArcGIS in order to determine composition of adjacent cover types in a determined radius. This information could be used to influence habitat management decisions on the Treehaven property and other ruffed grouse management areas.
Using Snapshot Wisconsin Trail Camera Images to Predict Fall Harvest Demographics of Eastern Wild Turkeys
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Hayden Walkush, Undergraduate Research Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Hannah Butkiewicz, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Shelby Truckenbrod, Undergraduate Research Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Jason Riddle, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Jennifer Stenglein, Quantitative Research Scientist, Office of Applied Science, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Christopher Pollentier, Upland Game Bird Research Scientist, Office of Applied Science, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Unknown
Abstract: Wisconsin's eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallapavo silvestris) population has flourished since the species' reintroduction in the 1970s. Despite the success, Wisconsin and other Midwestern states have experienced declining spring and fall harvests since the region's peak in the 2000s. Snapshot Wisconsin (SSWI) is a statewide trail camera wildlife monitoring project that provides a novel opportunity to study wild turkeys. With more than 2,200 trail cameras, the project has captured roughly 500,000 wild turkey photos between 2017 and 2020. Our objective is to determine if a relationship exists between male and female harvest and SSWI photo data 2017-2020 and across Turkey Management Zones. Harvest data were provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Simple linear regression will be used to explore the relationship. We hypothesize that a positive relationship exists between harvest and SSWI demographic data. If our predictions are supported, SSWI could be used to predict fall harvest demographics and inform hunting management decisions including establishing harvest quotas.
Comparison Between Snapshot Wisconsin Trail Camera and Spring Harvest Eastern Wild Turkey Data in Wisconsin
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Shelby Truckenbrod, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Hannah Butkiewicz, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Jennifer Stenglein, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Christopher Pollentier, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Jason Riddle, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: The eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) was extirpated from Wisconsin in the late 1800s. Successful reintroductions in the 1970s led to population sizes sustainable for harvest. Wisconsin has traditionally used Turkey Management Zone (TMZ) harvest numbers to monitor male wild turkey population metrics. Snapshot Wisconsin (SSWI), a citizen-science based trail camera program, provides an alternative method for studying male wild turkeys. Our objectives are to determine if relationships exist between the number of jakes and toms captured by SSWI and spring harvest data from April-May 2017-2020. We reviewed and classified over 270,000 SSWI trail camera images of wild turkeys from April-August 2016-2020. Simple linear regression will be used to model the relationship between SSWI and spring harvest data. We hypothesize that a positive relationship exists. SSWI provides a novel way to monitor male wild turkeys at unprecedented spatial scales.
Blue-Winged Teal (Spatula discors) True Metabolizable Energy of Southern Wetland Foods
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Therin M. Bradshaw, Samantha W. Yuan, Heath M. Hagy, Joseph D. Lancaster, Joshua M. Osborn, Aaron P. Yetter, Auriel M. V. Fournier
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: True metabolizable energy (TME) assays were developed to refine poultry diets but have been adapted to determine the available metabolizable energy within natural wetland foods for wild waterfowl. TME values of wetland food resources are needed before generating bioenergetic models to calculate impacts habitat management has on the energetic carrying capacity of wetlands. Prior TME research has focused on the food items commonly found in waterfowl diets and mostly focused on a single species of waterfowl, leaving an information gap within multiple waterfowl species and diverse waterfowl foods. In this project, we determined blue-winged teal (Spatula discors) TME values of wetland seeds (i.e., Cladium jamaicense, Eleocharis cellulose, Nymphaea odorata, and Polygonum glabrum) and wetland aquatic vegetation (i.e., Ceratophyllum demesum, Chara spp and Najas guadalupensis). From December 2019 through December 2021, we completed a fasting trial and 11 feeding trials across seven wetland food species during the non-breeding period. Trials began with a fasting period of 12-hours, with the length of time determined by examining data collected during fasting trials. Following the fasting period, we fed individuals a food mass not exceeding 1% of an individual’s body mass. Once fed, the individuals were held for an additional fasting period to allow the collection of excreta. Excreta was dried and remaining energy (Kcal/g) was quantified using a calorimeter. Our results will be used to support conservation planning models to refine waterfowl objectives stepped down from the North American Waterfowl Management Plan to better inform waterfowl conservation planners and wetland managers throughout the United States.
Nest-Site Selection and Nest Survival of Blue-Winged Teal (Anas discors) in Agriculturally Dominant Landscapes of Southeast Wisconsin
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Jeffrey Edwards, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Drew Fowler, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Marie Perkins, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Ben Sedinger, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Jason Winiarski, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Continentally, blue-winged teal (BWTE) populations have exhibited dramatic increases following declines in the 1970s and 1980s. However, breeding BWTE numbers in Wisconsin never recovered and continue to remain below historic levels. Reasons for the decline of breeding BWTE in Wisconsin are not fully understood but removal of upland grassland and emergent wetland landscapes for agricultural production is thought, in part, to reduce available nesting and brood-rearing habitat. Therefore, a clear understanding of how current habitat composition influences nest site selection and nest success is needed to provide managers with clear habitat management objectives. We analyzed BWTE nesting data collected by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ in 2008, 2009, and 2012 across 6 study sites in south-east Wisconsin to model nest-site selection and nest survival as a function of landcover composition. First, we extracted the proportion of landcover classes from publicly available landcover data within proximate (200-meter) and landscape scale (800-meter) buffers centered on each nest site (n = 118) and randomly selected locations. We then investigated nest-site selection patterns by contrasting landcover percentages from known nest buffers with those from randomly selected points. After determining nest-site selection patterns, we assessed any patterns that related landcover composition with nest survival at both proximate and landscape scales. Data from these analyses will provide insight into BWTE nesting behavior and habitat characteristics affecting BWTE breeding production in Wisconsin to help guide BWTE breeding habitat management for the state of Wisconsin and the Upper Mississippi River/Great Lakes Region Joint Venture.
Vegetation Responses to Controlled Water Level Management in Iowa
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Nicole Bosco, Iowa State University; Stephen J. Dinsmore, Iowa State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: The Sustainable Rivers Program (SRP), a cooperative effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and The Nature Conservancy, aims to better develop comprehensive water level management strategies in flood-control reservoirs. A main area of interest is manipulating water to benefit wildlife, especially migratory birds. Beginning in late July 2021 a controlled water draw-down was initiated at Red Rock Reservoir along the Des Moines River in central Iowa. Vegetation sampling took place over an 8-week period, were we emphasized monitoring the recently exposed mudflats. We sampled 194 20 cm x 50 cm quadrats that were added weekly at the receding water line, spaced along 25 line transects. This allowed us to weekly quantify patterns of vegetation relative to the receding waterline. Surveys found 19 species of plants with an average of 8.6 per transect (SD = 1.33), most commonly consisting of rice cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), rough cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium) and barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crus-galli). Plants increased in cover by 20.99% (SD =2.47) from 0.79% (SD = 1.36) when it was originally exposed 2 weeks prior. First appearance of vegetation within a quadrat was observed at 1.54 weeks (SD = 0.09) post exposure. It is important that we document these patterns of vegetation colonization and growth in response to water manipulation. Vegetation that is able to come into seed will serve as an important wildlife food source and provides additional habitat for migratory waterbirds during fall migration.
The Effect of Oxbow Lake Restoration on Breeding Birds
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Mary Kate Shaver, Iowa State University; Jordan Giese, Iowa State University; Lisa Schulte-Moore, Iowa State University
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Oxbow lakes are among the most biologically diverse aquatic systems in the world. In much of the Midwestern United States, channelization of waterways and removal of riparian vegetation has resulted in the loss and degradation of oxbows. In Iowa, the NRCS has restored oxbow lakes in order to improve habitats of the endangered Topeka Shiner (Notropis topeka). Very little research has been conducted regarding the impact of these restoration efforts on breeding birds. The objectives of this study were to provide a general description of breeding bird species that utilize restored oxbow lakes in central Iowa and examine community differences between restored and unrestored sites. We deployed six autonomous recording units (ARUs) at three restored oxbows and three nearby unrestored sites along the Boone River in Hamilton County in 2016 and 2017. We programmed ARUs to record for 30 minutes each day starting 15 minutes before sunrise. Using recordings from May 15 – July 15 of each year, an observer noted the first detection of each bird species within a recording. We compared species richness and other community measures of restored and unrestored sites. There were significantly more species per recording detected during surveys at restored sites than unrestored sites (p < 0.05). Wetland breeding species such as Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) and Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris), and forest breeding species such American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) and Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) were only detected at restored sites. Bird species that nest in early successional vegetation comprised a larger portion of the community at restored sites. Our study indicates that oxbows provide breeding habitat for multiple communities of birds. Some value of oxbow restoration efforts is likely a reflection of surrounding vegetation.
The Use of Motus Tracking System to Investigate the Migratory Behavior of Rails at a Local and Regional Scales
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Chad A. Cremer, Illinois Natural History Survey, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Mike P. Ward, Illinois Natural History Survey, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Auriel M. V. Fournier, Forbes Biological Station-Bellrose Waterfowl Research Center, Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: Little is known of the migratory connectivity and stopover ecology of the Sora (Porzana carolina) and Virgina Rail (Rallus limicola), which are understudied secretive marshbirds. Much of the wetland habitat needed by these species has been lost in the Midwest and it is imperative that we identify important stopover areas. High-quality stopover sites are necessary during migration for birds to rest and refuel and are critical during spring when breeding success may be affected by the impacts of limited resources during migration. We evaluated spring migration connectivity and stopover ecology in Illinois and the Midwest more broadly. Our objectives are to evaluate the migratory timing, stopover duration, and factors affecting spring departures in Sora and Virginia Rails and document large-scale movements. In the spring of 2021, 181 rails were trapped and banded at The Emiquon Preserve in central Illinois using walk-in confusion traps assisted by audio lures. Motus tags were deployed on 12 Sora and 21 Virginia Rail using a modified leg loop harness. Daily activity patterns and departures were monitored via four motus towers surrounding the study area and large-scale movements are reported by the motus tracking system. As of September of 2021, 4 individuals have been detected by the Motus network (locations: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Manitoba, Ontario, and Pennsylvania). Stopover duration at Emiquon Preserve ranged from 1 to 19 days, and in general the species activity patterns suggest a crepuscular behavior. Finally, we will discuss how the results of this study can be used to improve the management of rails.
The Effects of Physical Traits and Age Class on Migratory Timing of Female Northern Saw-whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus)
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Luke Trittelwitz, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Emily Knaack, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point; Contributor: Eugene Jacobs - Linwood Springs Research Station
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: Northern saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) (NSWO) are sexually dimorphic owls, males range in size from 18 to 20 cm in length, weighing 75 grams and females are 20 to 21.5 cm in length and weighing 100 grams. NSWOs migrate in the fall from September until December to their wintering grounds, with a peak in migration being mid-October. Data regarding sex ratios for migrating NSWOs are lacking, but females often outnumber males at banding stations during fall migration. While migrating, NSWOs are trapped using auditory lures (male NSWO call), possibly rendering females more susceptible to capture. Additionally, timing of migration of the different age groups varies from year to year and by location. Most individuals migrate at night. However, data show capture peaks in the 4-hour period before sunrise. Our data suggest a possible second peak in captures earlier in the night. We collected autumn migration data from Linwood Springs Research Station in Stevens Point, Wisconsin to help us identify correlation between physical traits and age classes, throughout the migratory period.
Examining Abiotic Effects on Northern Saw-whet Owl Migration Patterns in Delaware and Henry Counties, Indiana
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Danny Heinz, and Kamal Islam, Department of Biology, Ball State University
Student or Professional: Student-Undergraduate
Abstract: The Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) is one of the smallest owl species commonly found in North America and is known to migrate south or to lower elevations during the fall. They migrate during the night and can migrate to the southernmost points of the United States. Migration studies for Northern Saw-whet Owls (NSWO) are relatively common, specifically in the eastern United States. However, there are still many factors to their migration that are not entirely understood or have not been studied before. This study aims to add to the knowledge of NSWO migration by testing how abiotic factors such as temperature, lunar cycle, wind speed, and percent humidity, affect their migration. Two mist-netting stations are set up to monitor 2021 fall migration period: one at Whitetail Tree Farm in Henry County, Indiana, and the other in Ginn Woods in Delaware County. At each site, six nets are used in a t-shaped formation with one pole being the center of all the nets. At the center of the nets, a recording of a NSWO call is played to entice owls into the net. The nets are open from 30 minutes after sunset to approximately eleven PM. Banding will occur every Monday-Thursday for 8 weeks, from 4 October to 30 November. Additional data will be recorded such as sex, age, length, height, etc. Data from previous years may also be included in the analysis of this study. Overall, this research will increase our knowledge of NSWO migration which can be used to better understand their behavior and ecology.
Exploring Detectability of Woodpecker Nests
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: North, Michael R.
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Some state, federal, and county agencies have various legal commitments to consider cavity dependent wildlife needs in their forest management activities, and to mitigate adverse effects. Woodpeckers are ecosystem engineers for cavity dependent wildlife and so understanding woodpecker nesting habits is critical for managing forests sustainably for cavity dependent wildlife. Active woodpecker nests are difficult to find except when nestlings are actively begging for food. Very little research has been conducted on nest detectability during the nestling begging stage. In this poster I explore distances at which nestlings can be heard, durations during the nestling stage that nestlings are vocal, how detectability changes with nestling age, and how habitat influences detectability from 28 nests of 6 different species.
An Assessment of Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and Other Pollinator Use of Early Successional Communities Managed for Golden-Winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) In the Western Great Lakes.
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Emma C. Keele, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Darin J. McNeil, University of North Carolina-Wilmington; Dr. Joseph Duchamp, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Michael Tyree, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Jeffery Larkin, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and American Bird Conservancy
Student or Professional: Student
Abstract: The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) has been experiencing steep population declines for more than 25 years. Expanding monarch’s breeding habitat, by increasing milkweed and flowering plants on the landscape, has been suggested to be one of the most important steps to recover the species. Conservation efforts on private lands will be critical for achieving the ambitious habitat goals set for the monarch. The USDA NRCS has multiple programs that aid private landowners to implement habitat management for target species on private working lands. Both the monarch and golden-winged warbler are target species of NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife and Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Due to similar habitat associations, there is potential that early successional communities managed for golden-winged warblers may benefit monarchs. I used the Monarch Joint Venture Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program to survey 50 study sites in two managed early successional community types (alder shrubland and upland timber harvests) across northern Wisconsin and Minnesota during the summer of 2021. I observed a total of 116 monarchs, with monarch sightings in 68% of the alder shrubland sites and 72% of the upland timber harvest sites. A total of 8,274 milkweed stems were counted and I observed three different species: common (Asclepias syriaca), swamp (Asclepias incarnata), and poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata). Upland timber harvests had more flowers (42.01±26.76 flowers/site visit) compared to the alder shrubland sites (35.85±28.55 flowers/site visit). My results will be compared with the Monarch Joint Venture’s Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program to see how early successional sites that target golden-winged warblers compare to other sites in the region managed specifically for monarchs and other pollinators. These results will be useful to quantify how efforts to create habitat for golden-winged warbler through NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program augment the NRCS Working Land’s for Wildlife monarch partnership’s in the upper Midwest.
Influence of Temperature on Autumnal Migrational Departures of Northern Saw-Whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus) Recorded at Sandhill Wildlife Area.
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Aiden Gehrke, Carter Freymiller, Nicole Luoma, Sophie Reid, Cole Suckow; University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Student or Professional: Unknown
Abstract: The Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (NSWO) is a mesopredator within upland ecosystems that can be found as far North as Central Canada and Alaska and will migrate as far south as Central Mexico. NSWOs migrate in the fall from September until December, peaking around mid-October. This species is relatively abundant in Central Wisconsin during this time. From 2006 to 2021, we conducted research at Sandhill Wildlife Area, a 3,642-hectare wildlife refuge in Babcock, WI, operated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Our researchers have captured over 1,000 NSWOs at Sandhill from 2006-2021. NSWOs were captured using call-playback devices and mist-nets, then banded using #4 USGS aluminum leg bands, which contribute to national banding data on Northern Saw-whet Owls. We are interested in determining if warmer temperatures have led to later peaks in migration over the course of our study.
**VIRTUAL ONLY** Variation in Detection Probability Among Sex and Age Cohorts in Camera-Trap Surveys of White-Tailed Deer
Track: General Wildlife
Authors: Steven M. Gurney, The Christensen Lab for Wildlife Population Health, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University; Melissa J. Nichols, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division; Sarah L. Mayhew, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division; Dwayne R. Etter, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division; David M. Williams, Boone and Crockett Quantitative Wildlife Center, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University; Sonja A. Christensen, The Christensen Lab for Wildlife Population Health, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
Student or Professional: Student-Graduate
Abstract: White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are an important game species, and the accurate estimate of population parameters is essential for the evaluation of management actions. This need is especially relevant in areas where population-management actions are aimed to mediate the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in free-ranging deer. Camera trapping has become an increasingly common method for monitoring white-tailed deer populations, but many analytical methods fail to account for temporal variation in detectability, which can differ across age classes and between sexes. We plan to evaluate the effect of an antler point regulation change in an area with CWD on a deer population over three consecutive years. To optimize our precision, we must account for variation in detection over the sampling period. Our goal for this study is to evaluate temporal variation of white-tailed deer detection and implications for population parameter estimates. During 2019, we deployed 144 camera traps across a designated 5-county CWD Core Area (Kent, Newaygo, Ionia, Montcalm, and Mecosta; 9,332 km2) in the south-central Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Camera trapping will continue through 2022 and is restricted to 8 townships within the 5 counties, encompassing an area of approximately 749 km2. Between the months of July and September in 2019, we collected 797,407 photographs and characterized photos of deer based on total number of individuals, age, and sex. We are evaluating how detection for age and sex cohorts varies across time of day and sampling period, and how this may affect population estimation using site-structured models. Further, we are assessing how sample size and frequency of photos at sites affect our estimates and if subsampling produces sufficient precision and improved efficiency. Our findings will inform recommendations for addressing temporal detection variability on population parameter estimates using site-structured models and improve camera trap methods for wildlife more generally.
Human Dimensions/Outreach/Public Engagement
Forestry Management Practices Used to Influence Bat Communities and Habitat in Illinois
Track: Human Dimensions/Outreach/Public Engagement
Authors: Brittany Rogness, Illinois Natural History Survey; Tara Hohoff, Illinois Natural History Survey; Sarah Gaulke, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Jordyn Chace, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Presenting Author: Mark Davis, Illinois Natural History Survey
Student or Professional: Professional
Abstract: Bats rely heavily on forested areas for roosting and foraging, but in Illinois, only approximately 14% of the state is forested. Of the 13 bat species in the state, six are listed as Illinois Species in Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), three are federally listed as threatened or endangered, and two additional species are candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). With such limited habitat for the forest-dwelling bats, we seek to understand what decision-making processes land managers are implementing to influence bat communities and habitat across the state. We created a database of forestry professionals and land managers in Illinois through public information online and sent an email asking to participate in a survey to gain insights into broad forestry management practices. After the survey completion, we conducted follow-up semi-structured Zoom interviews with survey participants to gain further insights into their perceptions of bat habitat and management in Illinois. Specifically, we sought to understand more about tree, pest, fire, and water management practices with the consideration of bats across the state. This research will act as an initial analysis to gauge knowledge on the influence of management practices on bats and understand priorities for Illinois foresters and land managers.
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